Dilworth mother says prescribed medication for nausea caused daughter's heart defect

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It's already been a long journey for a young girl and her family in Dilworth.

At just two-years-old, a little girl named Arianah will undergo a major surgery after a visit to the doctor for a fever led to a heart defect.

One that that family said could have been prevented.

The barely two year little grin is sure to melt a mother's heart but smiles are a little more challenging to come by for Kylee Riesen after learning her daughter's precious heart isn't so perfect.

"I thought it was just a fever and then you walk out thinking what's wrong with my kid you know. This is heartbreaking," Riesen said.

Behind the warmth of Arianah's laugh lies a heart twice the size it should be, with two extra holes inside.

It was a devastating diagnosis that her mom found out about only two months ago from an x-ray.

Riesen said the heart problem started before Arianah was even born.

"When I was pregnant with Arianah I was very sick. I was throwing up all the time. I couldn't keep down water or anything. It was very miserable," Riesen said.

Riesen asked doctors for help and in return prescribed her Zofran or Ondansetron - a medication prescribed to patients going through chemotherapy to stop nausea and sometimes used to help pregnant women too.

A prescription that reisen said could be the reason her daughter needs open heart surgery.

"They told me to take it as needed, whenever I felt nauseous but it was the whole time i felt nauseous. I just continued to take it. I thought it was safe," Riesen said.

zofran is FDA approved through animal studies that came up clear
but one group was not tested in this research.

"The FDA doesn't do studies on pregnant women usually for obvious reasons because you'd put pregnant mothers and their children at risk," local pharmacist, David Olig said.

It wasn't until recent years the connection to pregnant women started raising red flags.

"Some incidental things on cleft palate possibly," Olig said.

Along with heart defects.

A problem doctors told Riesen they're lucky they found now.

"They told me children that have this defect, usually it doesn't get caught until their at least 18 years old and the reason it's caught is because they have a stroke," Riesen said.

A catch Arianah barely understands but she'll keep smiling as two year olds do, melting everyone's heart.

Arianah's open heart surgery is scheduled for May.

The family will have to travel and stay in the cities for nearly the whole month for the surgery.

Family, friends and even strangers come together every Tuesday to work on a benefit which is scheduled for April 18th in Dilworth.